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Sad, This Policy Makes Vegetable Farmers Difficult

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During the Covid-19 pandemic, a number of large private oil palm plantation companies (PBS) in East Kotawaringin Regency (Kotim) implemented mandatory antigen tests with negative results for every citizen who entered the plantation area. This was done to prevent the spread of Covid-19. Vegetable farmers who usually sell on oil palm plantations also find it difficult to market their crops.

Field Agricultural Extension Officer (PPL) Ketapang Village, MB Ketapang District, Yulin Hernawati said, the demand for vegetables in oil palm plantations was still there. However, farmers are hindered by the inspections that are burdensome to farmers.

“Farmers affected are only vegetable farmers such as kale, mustard greens, pakcoy, lettuce and others. There are quite a lot of requests from local residents (palm companies), usually farmers routinely supply their green vegetables and deliver them directly. Because, during the pandemic and the addition of this PPKM period, entering companies must show a rapid antigen test to make vegetable prices cheap, farmers switch to planting other commodities,” said Yulin Hernawati, Thursday (19/8).

In Ketapang Village, Yulin said there are 100 active farmers. They belong to a farmer group. Each group consists of 13-35 farmer members.

“There are eight farmer groups in the Ketapang area, but there are only 7 active farmer groups,” he said.

Each member of the farmer has 0.25-2 ha of gardens planted with various food commodities. Some of the land is privately owned and some are renting land owned by other people.

“Farmers in the Ketapang area are one of the largest suppliers of vegetables. Not only meeting the needs of vegetables in traditional markets in Sampit, but also selling them out of Kotim,” he said.

Just as the farmers on Jalan Kaca Piring mostly grow chilies and leeks, on Jalan Teratai the farmers mostly grow vegetables, onions, chilies, sweet potatoes, bitter melon and eggplant. And, on Jalan Bumi Ayu and Jalan Captain Mulyono, farmers mostly grow all kinds of green vegetables.

“There are also farmers who grow melons, tomatoes and cabbage. Each farmer usually does not only plant one commodity, there are other crops such as eggplant, leek and chili with various types of varieties, some are Dewata, Si Hang, Maruti, Orion varieties,” he said.

Especially for chili plants, farmers tend to prefer to grow chilies of the Hanging, Dewata, and Orion varieties.

“Farmers who want to harvest quickly, usually plant maruti or Dewata varieties because they can harvest in two months. However, if you want a high selling price, most of the farmers grow the Sihang chili variety. Because the selling price is IDR 35 thousand per kg at the farmer level and the fruit is heavy,” he said.

Currently, some farmers are starting to sow the sret variety of chili. It is estimated that the beginning of September will start planting. “This is also one of the government’s programs to plant the Sret variety of chili. The shape is fat, smaller than the hanging, similar to the ori variety, the fruit is abundant and dense, more or less like a god and is quickly harvested, the flesh is thick with a few seeds, the fruit is bright and shiny when ripe, suitable for planting in urban lowlands and the taste is spicy and booming. ” he said.

Yulin said that every year the government has a program to provide seeds for horticultural crops such as chilies, cabbages, shallots, tomatoes, eggplants, and vegetables.

“The Sampit City area is not a rice area, so the government annually programs for farmers to plant horticultural crops. This year, farmers in East Kalimantan are simultaneously planting chilies from government assistance. In Ketapang, there are four farmer groups that receive 1 ha of assistance per farmer group,” he said.

This assistance is expected to balance the price of chili in the market. Of the many food commodities produced by farmers, they still cannot meet the needs of market demand, with the exception of green vegetables.

“For 100 percent of vegetables supplied from local farmers. It is not sufficient for the market needs because each land turn does not continue to plant only one commodity, farmers usually take turns planting other crops that can fertilize the soil such as corn. Farmers also fulfill the demands of their loyal customers, who even though the price is cheap or expensive, they still buy, the rest is only sold to traditional markets. Seen from the land is enough. Actually, farmers can meet market demand, especially chilies, as long as all farmers grow chilies at the same time, it must be fulfilled,” he said. (hgn/yit)

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